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Contributed by: [name withheld]
Contributed on: June 29, 2002

Which blackout(s) did you experience?
1965 (Great Northeast Blackout)

In your own words, tell the story of your experience in the blackout(s). Try to recall specific events and the people, places, and things involved; also include more general reactions, images adn last impressions?
As a young Airman in the USAF, Air Defense Command assigned with the 60th Fighter Interceptor

Squadron, Otis Air Force Base at Cape Cod Massachusetts, and part of the North East Air Defense

Sector,

I was responsible for the Aerospace Ground equipment that supported Fighter and Defense Aircraft the

F101 Voodoo Fighter interceptors on the Flightline and dedicated to the mission of National Defense and

to the readiness of these aircraft in the event of national emergency or attack.

At dusk we were leaving the squadron to return to the barracks, when we had just locked the gate to our

Flightline area, headed for the ride to the Barracks and the Lights went out, I refused to Leave with the

others and stayed behind to be ready for whatever was to happen, not having an access key for the gate,

I alone, climbed the fence to take Mitigating action and Insure that Aircraft were Ready in the event that

they might be needed for eminent service.

I first Started the Command Center 50 KW Generator to insure Command Post Power was ready and

available, then I started All the Generators and Air Compressors on the Flightline Aircraft so that All

available F101 VooDoo Fighters were ready for immediate departure, if needed.

It seemed like an age passed when the Alert Recall to Stations was sounded, the call went out, and soon

others began to appear to assist in the readiness actions. Many in our squadron were surprised to find All

Aircraft powered up and ready for departure.

Rev. George A. Lambert

aka Sgt. George A. Lambert USAF '64-'68

The RevDoc

doc@hiksos.com

Why did the blackouts happen, in your opinion?
In the 1965 Northeast Blackout, A quirk and unpredictable schme of events unravelled and a domino effect knocked down major power and transmission networks, thus leaving the Northeast almost totally without power. This, I believe was a shock to the Population, but Planning and readiness should have prevented the second blackout. That was made vividly clear in the readiness of Y2K possibilities.

Good cooperation, Planning, testing, and the alternatives were established nationwide to mitigate, and prevent any further occurance, and it worked.

What is your opinion regarding the general causes of power failures (blackouts)?
Small ones can not be avoided, and should be occasionally expected, but Major blackouts are a disgreace to those in Control, who should have a contigency plan to mitigate Loss, powerdowns, or blackouts.

Did either blackout seem significant or shocking at the time?
1965 only

Why did you consider the blackout(s) to be significant or insignificant?
As a young Airman in the USAF, Air Defense Command assigned with the 60th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Otis Air Force Base at Cape Cod Massachusetts, and part of the North East Air Defense Sector, I was responsible for the Aerospace Ground equipment that supported Fighter and Defense Aircraft the F101 Voodoo Fighter interceptors on the Flightline and dedicated to the mission of National Defense and to the readiness of these aircraft in the event of national emergency or attack. At dusk we were leaving the squadron to return to the barracks, when we had just locked the gate to our Flightline area, headed for the ride to the Barracks and the Lights went out, I refused to Leave with the others and stayed behind to be ready for whatever was to happen, not having an access key for the gate, I alone, climbed the fence to take Mitigating action and Insure that Aircraft were Ready in the event that they might be needed for eminent service. I first Started the Command Center 50 KW Generator to insure Command Post Power was ready and available, then I started All the Generators and Air Compressors on the Flightline Aircraft so that All available F101 VooDoo Fighters were ready for immediate departure, if needed. It seemed like an age passed when the Alert Recall to Stations was sounded, the call went out, and soon others began to appear to assist in the readiness actions. Many in our squadron were surprised to find All Aircraft powered up and ready for departure. Rev. George A. Lambert aka Sgt. George A. Lambert USAF '64-'68 The RevDoc doc@hiksos.com

How did the blackout(s) affect you?
As a young Airman in the USAF, Air Defense Command assigned with the 60th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Otis Air Force Base at Cape Cod Massachusetts, and part of the North East Air Defense Sector, I was responsible for the Aerospace Ground equipment that supported Fighter and Defense Aircraft the F101 Voodoo Fighter interceptors on the Flightline and dedicated to the mission of National Defense and to the readiness of these aircraft in the event of national emergency or attack. At dusk we were leaving the squadron to return to the barracks, when we had just locked the gate to our Flightline area, headed for the ride to the Barracks and the Lights went out, I refused to Leave with the others and stayed behind to be ready for whatever was to happen, not having an access key for the gate, I alone, climbed the fence to take Mitigating action and Insure that Aircraft were Ready in the event that they might be needed for eminent service. I first Started the Command Center 50 KW Generator to insure Command Post Power was ready and available, then I started All the Generators and Air Compressors on the Flightline Aircraft so that All available F101 VooDoo Fighters were ready for immediate departure, if needed. It seemed like an age passed when the Alert Recall to Stations was sounded, the call went out, and soon others began to appear to assist in the readiness actions. Many in our squadron were surprised to find All Aircraft powered up and ready for departure. Rev. George A. Lambert aka Sgt. George A. Lambert USAF '64-'68 The RevDoc doc@hiksos.com

What happened to your perception of the blackout(s) when you heard the news about the full scope of the event(s)?
I was amazed at the scope of the events after the Dust settled. It was like WoW! we seem to take electricity for granted as a way of life, and consider it will or should always be there, but Disasters do happen, "We Must Be Vigilant" "And Ready".

How would you compare the blackout(s) to "normal" power failures you have experienced at other times?
I try to have a contingency back up plan at all times with Generators, Power Inverters, Candles, Lanterns, batteries, radios, fuel, etc so that in any emergency "I am Connected" via Emergency Radio, and other communications. Weather Alerts, news, and the Like. Even TV! We are an electric dependant society.

What affect, if any, did the blackout(s) have on your opinion of Consolidated Edison Company?
No Opinion, it Happened, and we must go on and move foreward. But we must understand, It could happen again and unfortunately, possibly, even with the best planning.

If you experienced both the 1965 and 1977 blackouts, please compare them (describe the ways in which they were similar/different):
Out of area in 1977.

Did the blackout(s) have any larger meaning in your mind?
Yes (please explain)

If yes, please explain:
Always be Ready for any emergency, so as to be better able to mitigate possible Problems should they arise. And they will.

Did the blackout(s) cause any profound crisis?
Yes (please explain)

If yes, please explain:
Many people may have been frightened or traumatised, as they can not perceive all of the inner workings for such a complex operation and they may not have the capacity to comprehend what has happened when the out of ordinary circumstance confronts them personally, "Head On", especially by surprise.

How did the blackout(s) affect your daily reliance on electricity?
Other (please specify)

If other, please specify:
It caused me to reflect and Plan for future Problems. As they can occur at any time, and without warning, so I would say that it was a wake up call and a major marker in my life for the better. And it has lasted me many years.

This is how the story goes: In November of 1965 the lights went out in New York and crime rates temporarily dropped; there were widespread reports of extraordinary cooperation and trust between strangers caught together in the power failure. In July of 1977, little more than a decade later, the lights went out again in New York. This time, a devastating wave of looting and arson broke out. Does this story ring true to you? Explain why or why not:
For whatever it is worth, in '65 the VietNam war was escallating, the Bay of pigs was past, Lyndon Johnson was President Gasoiline was about 25 cents per gallon in Contrast to the fuel Crisis of '73 the Jobless rates at a high. But in '77 Carter was President, The Bicentenial just passed, the weather was hot and people's tempers rose, as did the temperature.

Cite as: Anonymous, Story #166, The Blackout History Project, 29 June 2002, <http://blackout.gmu.edu/details/166/>.
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